On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a disciplinary action against attorney Tyrone Riley, suspending him from the practice of law for an interim period. The court’s order came after the director of the Board of Professional Conduct filed a certified copy of a felony conviction against Riley.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Tyrone Riley,” with case number 2023-1156.
According to a report published by WTOL11, former Toledo council members Larry Sykes, Yvonne Harper, and Tyrone Riley have been sentenced by a federal judge after pleading guilty in December 2022 to accepting bribes while serving in office. Riley was sentenced to two years in prison and one year of probation after pleading guilty to one count of Hobbs Act extortion under official color of right.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Helmick said that Riley took the most bribes for the most amount of money and that he was “dumbfounded as to how you got to this point.” Riley apologized to his family and constituents for the “hurt, shame, and embarrassment” he caused them.
Riley’s sentence was less than what could have been due to a provision in federal sentencing guidelines that went into effect on November 1. Helmick noted that Riley’s lack of criminal history was also taken into account when issuing his sentence.
The Ohio Supreme Court took swift action upon receiving a copy of Riley’s felony conviction, issuing an order that immediately suspended his license to practice law on an interim basis. The court also referred the matter to the Toledo Bar Association for a thorough investigation and potential disciplinary proceedings.
The court ordered Riley to immediately cease practicing law in any form, including appearing on behalf of clients, counseling, advising, or preparing legal documents for others. He is also prohibited from handling client funds or property.
The order requires Riley to notify clients, co-counsel, and opposing counsel in pending cases within 30 days. He must also refund any unearned fees, account for client funds in his possession, and file an affidavit showing compliance.
Riley is suspended until he complies with all court orders and rules governing suspended attorneys. He must also complete continuing legal education requirements during the suspension.
Mr. Riley served as a member of the Toledo City Council for District 1 in Ohio from 2012 to 2020. He sought re-election and won the general election on November 5, 2019. However, he voluntarily suspended his position on the council on July 22, 2020.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.